KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Few things in baseball are better than winning a World Championship.
The Royals won the title in 2015, and on Tuesday afternoon, the club welcomed in some of Kansas City's most inspiring athletes.
It's been called the best thing to happen at Kauffman Stadium every year. The Royals threw open their gates to 50 athletes from Special Olympics of Greater Kansas City took the outfield grass for a little softball and excitement.
A chance to play ball on the same diamond as the big leaguers is a dream come true, playing the game just the way their heroes do, as a team from Kansas squared off against their neighbors from Missouri.
“It's awesome,” Baird Riley, a Special OIympian from Olathe, Kan., shouted. “I love it.”
Those 50 feisty athletes weren't far from the Royals themselves, some of whom joined them on a corner of the stadium’s left field grass. Three current Royals, infielder Whit Merrifield, relief pitcher Kevin McCarthy and outfielder Billy Burns, all joined in, helping these special athletes enjoy their trip around The K.
“Their spirits are always so high. They have so much energy. It's just awesome to be around. There's no bad days with these kids,” Merrifield said.
“I met them in person. I'm a big person in my house,” Bill Zagalik, a Special Olympian from Kansas City, Mo., said.
The Royals also made Special Olympics metro its golf beneficiary earlier this year. Earlier this summer, the team's charity golf tournament raised $96,000 for Special Olympians living in the metro.
Those special athletes and their families also received tickets to Tuesday's game, the second matchup in a four-game series against the Oakland Athletics.